PEI

University could take longer and cost more than you expect: MPHEC

High school students in the Maritimes may want to adjust their expectations about university, according to a study released Wednesday by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission.

50% of high school students expect to take out a student loan, but 69% of graduates did

High school students' expectations of what it takes to earn a university degree don't seem to match up to the reality, according to the MPHEC study. (The Associated Press)

High school students in the Maritimes may want to adjust their expectations about university, according to a study released Wednesday by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission.

The study compared the experience of recent university graduates with the expectations of Grade 12 students, and found getting a university degree took longer and required more financial resources than expected.

Eighty one per cent of students expected to finish their degree in four years, but only 37 per cent did.

Students should 'plan ahead'

"Grade 12 students may not yet be thinking of the fairly common choices that can be made along the way that can lead to a later graduation date, such as switching faculties or even institutions, doing work terms, or perhaps taking a reduced course load," said MPHEC chair Jean-François Richard.

"The fact that completing a degree may take longer than planned means entering students should think about these different possibilities and how they might plan ahead."

Fifty per cent of the Grade 12 students thought they'd be able to rely on their parents as one of their top two financial sources. But only 35 per cent of the university grads were able to do that.

Three per cent of Grade 12 students surveyed thought they'd have to work full time. Nineteen per cent of the university grads said they did.

And more 50 per cent expected to have to borrow money — but borrowing was a reality for 69 per cent of the grads.

Nearly 4,000 students surveyed

The data for the study was gathered in the spring and fall of 2014.

It included 2,413 Grade 12 students from 175 high schools who had expressed an interest in attending university. The surveys were administered online by participating schools in the spring.

The university graduate survey was done in the fall. It reached 1,578 graduates of the 2012 class, who had all been residents of the Maritimes in Grade 12.

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